Let’s go back over 20 years ago, it was 1995.
I was living in Hawaii when I bought my first Guided By Voices CD,
which was “Alien Lanes”.
The only music store at the time here was J&R Music.
This was before you could order stuff on the internet,
not only that,
but it was before I ever used the internet.
When I went to J&R’s to see if they had “Alien Lanes”,
which I had read about in CMJ New Music Monthly.
I was surprised that they actually had it,
plus a few other CDs of theirs.
After I got into “Alien Lanes” I wanted anything and
everything by Guided By Voices,
I went back to J&R’s.
I was shocked to find there was only one Guided By Voices
cd left, “The Grand Hour”.
I was panicked!
I was thinking, “Damn! I should have bought everything
when I bought “Alien Lanes”.
But I had no idea I would even like “Alien Lanes”,
I thought buying it was a gamble at first.
I grabbed “The Grand Hour” with no idea what it was.
was it an hour long? It says “Alien Lanes” is on it.
Was it the album “Alien Lanes”?
even if it was, I didn’t care,
I needed more GBV.
This was the beginning of my GBV addiction.
(I feel like I’m at an AA meeting, or a GBVA Meeting...lol)
I went to the counter and asked if they had any more
Guided By Voices CDs.
The guy said, I was the second person to ever buy
or ask about Guided By Voices.
and I thought I was the only GBV fan in Kona.
Anyway that was when I ordered “BOX”,
with no clue what it was,
But that’s another story...
After self-releasing and financing five albums
and an EP, Guided By Voices called it quits.
Then their records were unleashed on the public,
in a way they never were before and
ultimately, finding their way into the right hands.
The result was Scat Records signing them.
The band got back together, recorded this ep and
started performing live for the first time in years.
And of course the rest is history.
Clocking in at nine and a half minutes,
“The Grand Hour” is a raw, lo-fi recording using
4-track and perhaps even Boom box recordings.
The opening song “I’ll Get Over It” is drums with an overdriven
acoustic guitar, perhaps with a microphone inside of it,
with Robert Pollard singing over it.
One point I have to make about GBV’s use of four track
recordings compared to their earlier studio recordings,
Pollards vocals have more presence and stand out more,
and basically just sound better.
“Shocker In Gloomtown” shows that though the band is lo-fi
doesn’t mean they can’t kick some ass.
Such a great song and a fan favorite that the band still performs
it live to this day, over twenty-five years later.
The song “Alien Lanes” has really nothing to do with the album of
the same name, which would come out two years later.
But it is a cool noisy Freak-beat number with Pollard yelling
his lungs out.
I just love when they do this weirder stuff
I wish more bands would loosen up like this.
Clocking in at 2 minutes and 32 seconds,
“Alien Lanes” is the longest song on the ep.
“Off The Floor” starts off with the intro to “Hot Freaks”,
actually it’s the same recording that would appear
two albums later on “Bee Thousand”.
After a couple seconds it goes into a beautiful Tobin Sprout
But playing at the same time is a chaotic electric guitar
with Pollard sort-of singing/yelling.
“Break Even” is another great Guided By Voices rocker
that I don’t think has been played live for a very long time,
but should be.
Though the song is basically a Punk song,
it does have elements of Progressive Rock,
with the changes within the song including an
acoustic guitar break, ending with Wah pedal guitar.
On “Break Even” Guided By Voices achieves more
in two and a half minutes,
than most bands achieve on an entire album or career.
The is a great example of what Bob calls the Four P’s of Rock;
Punk, Prog, Psychedelic and Pop.
Like the track “Alien Lanes”, the song, “Bee Thousand”
has nothing to do with the album of the same name.
Starting with a chant,
“Webbo Webbo Webbo Webbo, Webbo Webbo Web-bo”
accompanied with acoustic guitar.
Then suddenly there is a thrash grindcore guitar with Bob’s vocal,
then back to the chant and back again.
To sum up,
“The Grand Hour” is an excellent ep.
Though it is experimental,
it does have the Punk edge and power in the music,
which I love.
But without the other negative elements of Punk,
which I don’t.
Even though the ep does clock in at Under ten minutes,
if you hit the repeat button enough,
It will be a “Grand Hour”.